Our love for food, travel and Italy all came together again in a wonderful short culinary trip to Tuscany for Parrano cheese. And this time we also got to go with our loveliest fellow foodies and travelettes Rebecca (Mytravelboektje) and Sabine (Your Ambassadrice). Fun times ahead!
After landing at Florence airport a taxi bus took us to the lovely town of Arrezzo to meet Lars and Pippa, our hosts, and have lunch at Osteria Mest. Having lunch in Italy doesn’t mean grabbing a sandwich but a full on three course meal with wine included. It set the standard for the rest of the trip ;)
The menu consisted of ravioli stuffed with ricotta and raw milk goat cheese and herbs sprinkled with a light pesto, Casentino pork loin with mashed potatoes, string bean and spinach flan, and Coconut & chocolate biscuit cake with salted caramel as dessert. Such a copious lunch asked for a little walk afterwards as you can imagine…Though we didn’t mind doing some shopping (the lady at the KIKO beauty store had a great turnover that day!), before heading to Villa Parrano/Torre del Tartufo.
The gravel road towards the villa seems endless and is quite the bumpy kind. Yet you forget all about it when the sight of the wonderfully charming mansion covered in ivy rises up.
While making a tour around the premises we found a swing and just could not resist…throwback childhood years! And what else was there? A pool, a hot tub, a small gym/spa area…not to mention the ah-mazing view. We just kept thinking: “Do we really have to leave in a few days??”
Our first evening was exactly how you would imagine life the Tuscan way: aperitivo, dinner, wine, liquors and laughs!
On the second day we had two excursions on the schedule: a wine tasting at Villa la Ripa on the Chianti slopes of Arezzo, and a visit to an olive oil mill, followed by a tasting and a homemade lunch in the mill’s owner’s garden.
The winery is owned by neurologist Saverio Luzzi and his wife. They produce four wines: the classics Tiratari and Psyco (what’s in a name!), and the newer wines Peconio and Spaziolibero. Villa Ripa was built in late Renaissance, and a little tour through the house showed us the remains of an in house chapel which revealed original fresco’s after scraping the walls. Mister Luzzi also told us that while digging on the property grounds even some earlier remains of the Roman empire were found!
What appealed to us most though was the enormous alley towards the villa with cypress trees alongside and the blossoming trees in the garden. Ah, Spring in Tuscany is so lovely…The wines tasted great of course, but we had a slight preference for the Psyco.
Francesco of the Ravagni Olive Oil Mill was the next to welcome us and explain the process of making organic olive oil. He noticed quite quickly that the best way to make us familiar with the quality of their oil was to serve it to us. They have a range of flavoured olive oils -the one tastier than the other- and we also fell for the ‘experimental’ balsamic syrup. Just pour a few drops of citrus flavoured olive oil and a drizzle of this syrup over a slice of orange and your tastebuds make a little jump of joy!
After this savoury intermezzo we had to rush back to Villa Parrano/Torre del Tartufo for the truffle hunt, and roll up our sleeves to prepare our dinner. We didn’t literally ‘hunt’ for truffles, as there are specific trees in the Villa’s backyard. The roots of the hazels and oaks are ideal to grow truffles, and then all you need is a trained ‘truffle’ dog to find them. Luckily we had both so we could get started with the preps of our 4-course dinner. (find our complete menu including one of the recipes here.)
We were on Team Dessert and made the tiramisu and the cantucci. After labour it was time to relax and we enjoyed the last rays of sun from the terrace, followed by a dip in the hot tub with a glass of wine to enjoy the sunset. It’s probably superfluous to tell you the dinner tasted brilliantly. The good life, ya know.